Today is George Harrison’s birthday.
In his honor, I am reposting a story from 2021.
Interviewer: How did you get into music?
George: Ever since I was a small boy all I wanted was to be a musician – or a gardener (laugh). I remember the first time I heard Elvis on the radio. I didn’t know who he was at the time. This incredible voice was coming from someone’s window as I rode by on my bike and I had to find out who he was. Making music wasn’t about being famous; that was just a bonus. It was a way for me to express my soul. All I wanted was to make music and be in a band like John and Paul.
Interviewer: How are you and Paul getting on?
George: Paul’s a genius and he’ll be the first to say so! Listen, we love each other like brothers and always will but we have our fall outs, just like all families. We can really get on each others nerves but you just don’t stop loving somebody for that. The thing about Paul is his relentless need for mental stimulation and public adulation. He craves attention, being the center of the universe. He thinks he’s right all the time and won’t give up on something until he gets his way. That’s his personality, not mine. I’m an easy going guy and he treated me like a mariachi band guitar player at times. You think that didn’t hurt? He can be damn manipulative but from the day we met I felt he was truly great. It’s been my privilege all these years to make music with him.
Interviewer: Care to comment on the “Paul is dead” story?
George: Not really.
Interviewer: You’ve got to admit there’s some compelling evidence out there.
George: Conspiracy theories abound! Anything is believable if presented the right way. We all decided not to make a big deal out of the story. If we came out fiercely denying it, well that would have just drawn more attention to it. We felt it best to leave it alone and stay out of it. You can make up your own mind, man. I’m not going there.
Interviewer: Fair enough. How was your relationship with John?
George: John was brilliant, incredibly creative and spontaneous. People saw him cutting up and joking around but he was surprisingly insecure and withdrawn. John’s brain never stopped and he had a wickedly funny sense of humor. He could be a saint or a bastard but he was always honest and I loved him. And no matter what anyone felt – myself included – John was one with Yoko. They had an amazing bond; they loved each other deeply and just wanted to be in each other’s company all the time. They couldn’t help it and they didn’t care how people felt about it. That’s why Yoko was always a presence and I applaud John for that. After the group split our paths rarely crossed. Then that psycho shot him. This man of peace … killed so violently … the very thing he vehemently opposed. I like to think I’m a forgiving man but that is the one thing I will never forgive. (George stares off into the distance; we’re quiet for a moment)
Interviewer: What about Ringo?
George: Ha! Ringo! I smile just saying that name. He’s a really great drummer but he took a lot of shit from John and Paul, as did I. Ritchie was an easy target but he was thrilled just being in the band. He’s one of the happiest people I know. What you see is what you get with him. No airs about him at all. We were really good mates until I mucked it all up and had an affair with Maureen. That was a grave error in judgement on my part. Ritchie forgave me because that’s how he is but we lost that tight closeness we had. Listen, let’s be honest – we all had our share of infidelities. That doesn’t excuse what I did. Ritchie is all about peace and love. He’ll do anything for his friends. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Ritchie.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about Eric Clapton.
George: (Big sigh) Eric. Well, what can I say? He’s my brother, you know. We have a connection – as close as the fine strings on a guitar.
Interviewer: What about his affair with your wife?
George: Well, it wasn’t exactly a stellar period for any of us. Eric was obsessed with Pattie for a long time. She was such a free spirit, luscious, impossible to resist! Pattie loved us both passionately but I had my flings and she chose to be with Eric. I don’t blame her. I was disappointed with them, sure, but how could I judge them when my behavior was just as bad? We all just moved on.
Interviewer: Which of your songs do you consider the best?
George: You probably think I’m going to say “Something”, right? Well, you’re correct because I always knew I was capable of writing a song like that but neither John nor Paul believed I could do it. Even George Martin had his doubts. They certainly didn’t give me much of a chance. Do you know Frank Sinatra said it was the greatest love song in the last 50 years? Well, I guess I showed them, didn’t I? (laughing loudly, coughing). But right up there with “Something” is “My Sweet Lord”, my first solo number one release. Both those songs are on the album for Bangladesh which I honestly believe is my best work. It wasn’t about just writing songs; I had something important to say, a message to get across to people. It was a very fulfilling time in my life.
Interviewer: After the split, did you think The Beatles would ever reunite?
George: No. We four guys – we came together to make music. We created something special and ended up making history. In a short period we lived a lot of lifetimes and as a group we were burned out, ready to have a go as solo artists. I had all the material things one person could ever want. What I needed was spiritual fulfillment, to be the best person I could be. I’m dying, you know. Cancer. My days are numbered. Those years with the Lads – they were brilliant. I’ll never forget a moment.
Dedicated to George Harrison on the anniversary of his death, November 29, 2001.
NAR © 2021